When I look back on my year, I see all of the same things you see. There was heartbreak. Many of our fellow mamas went without. Our kids, our new babies, and our teens missed monumental moments and each other. I watched 2020 spiral into hate for one another. There were days when I did nothing but read strings of comments where words did not acknowledge humanity. 2020 took on the shapes of our struggle. But moms, we were not defeated.
Women Are Warriors
What 2020 forgot is that as women, we are resilient creatures. We are made with hearts driven by compassion. As women, we have carried others in our bodies, in our hearts, and have loved with our very souls. 2020 forgot that women are warriors. The highlight of 2020 is not and will never be defined by the times we gave in to our humanity. Instead, this year is about the times when we took a stand for humanity.
Leaders and Learners
On December 17, 2020 Congresswoman Deb Haaland tweeted, “Growing up in my mother’s Pueblo household made me fierce. I’ll be fierce for all of us, our planet, and all of our protected land.” This is her battle cry. It is the same battle cry of the many women in our community who stepped up on behalf of our communities throughout 2020. They may not have gotten national recognition; however, they have become the paving stones for our daughters.
Throughout, our city, state, and even in the tiniest of communities, women are rebuilding the foundation of our future. In 2020 EMERGE New Mexico trained and graduated 29 FABULOUS women who will ALL run for office in the future. Similarly, in 2020 EMERGE NM graduates owned 75 spaces on our election ballot. Fearless, yes they are fearless. They also represent women just like you and me.
Answering the Call
This is not to say that all women should run for office, or that you cannot help your community in other ways. 2020 witnessed the audacity of women to come forward and use their strengths to keep 2020 on its toes. Women like Val Day Sanchez, who believe that EQUITY and INCLUSION are essential rights. Her voice is not only powerful, and influential, but it also influences her students and our future generations. Her work as a professor and law student is a direct representation of a rebuttal to the efforts 2020 put forth to silence us.
In New Mexico, 75% of all public school teachers are female. As a school social worker, single mother, and community member, if I have learned anything about teachers it is that the word “hero” is not sufficient. I have watched our educators work tirelessly to pave a way for our students. Women like Christina Daly Smith of Sparrow Dance Productions who teach at our schools by day and provide our young people with space to express themselves by night. This year her classroom was different and her ballerinas wore masks, but her love for each of the children she serves never faltered.
This year because of women like Veronica Montano-Pilch, our children in foster care were not forgotten. New Mexico Kids Matter may have provided services a little differently this year; however, their volunteers did not falter because of COVID. In spite of, because of, and in honor of New Mexico, the team at NM Kids Matter still brought Christmas to one of our most needy populations. The children served by CASA advocates will still get a virtual visit from Santa. Over 500 children will also receive a Christmas gift from the beautiful volunteers that seek to give children a voice so that they know, no matter what, they truly do matter.
COVID Didn’t Take Our Drive. It Gave Us Permission.
It would be an understatement to refrain from acknowledging what COVID took from us, from women. As a single mom, COVID shook me to my core. There were days I could do nothing other than weep for the people suffering around me. Those tears could have taken over and sought out to drown me. Instead, they gave me permission.
As women we are often defined by the fact that even now, we are struggling for the same representation, pay, and to define our place in the world. Well, not anymore. What 2020 forgot about women, is that when they are given time, a problem, and are presented with a need, we do not back down. There is nothing that can overcome a mother, sister, wife, and fierce-ass woman.
My favorite poet Mercedez Holtry says it best in her poem “Brown Woman”. When she speaks about women like me, Latina women, she says, “Brown women don’t follow rules, we bend and break your definition of ‘woman’ constantly.” I believe that is exactly what 2020 gave us permission to do.
2021 Resolutions Are Dead to Me
I have a bone to pick with 2021 New Years’ resolutions. In fact, they are dead to me. 2020 expected us to criticize, pick apart, and apply value to things needing improvement. Looking back, maybe there was once room for that. As we enter a new year, with new representation, newfound strength, and an intense sense of community, the only space I ask the women to create in their lives is space for action. If you need permission, don’t worry. You have it. No matter who you are or where you’ve been, the women of 2021 are here with open arms. We are waiting for your talents, trademarks, and passion to lift our communities up.
In the words of my very dear friend and fellow fierce woman, Monica Rodriguez, “Con ganas Mija, con ganas.”